Hawa Abdi

Fellow Image: 
Hawa Abdi
Human Rights Activist and Physician
Chubb Fellow: 
2016 to 2017

Dr. Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe is a Somali human rights activist and physician. She is the founder and chairperson of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation (DHAF), a non-profit organization.  She was born in 1947 in Mogadishu. Her father was a worker in the city’s port and her mother died when she was very young. As the eldest child, Hawa was forced to raise her four sisters in conditions of poverty. But she never lost hope and sight of her dreams.

With the help of a Soviet scholarship, Hawa studied medicine in Kiev and soon became Somalia’s first female gynecologist. She then completed a Law degree at the Somali National University in Mogadishu, where she later became an Assistant Professor of Medicine. She soon opened a clinic on her family’s ancestral land in the Afgooye Corridor, using the profits from her family land to provide free health care to all of her countrymen.

When the civil war began in 1991, Dr. Hawa started housing her employees on her land, feeding them and caring for them. Soon their friends and relatives came seeking shelter, then after the friends and relatives of their friends and relatives. Dr. Hawa welcomed them all, providing shelter to all those who came regardless of where they came from. In 2012, Dr. Hawa’s land housed more than 90,000 refugees, most of whom are women and children.

Today, Dr. Hawa Abdi continues to fight for the women, children and elderly people of the Hawa Abdi Village. With the help of her two amazing daughters, Deqo and Amina, both of whom are doctors who have followed in her footsteps, Dr. Abdi continues to keep a candle of light lit for the people of the Afgooye Corridor.

Dr. Abdi has won numerous distinctions and awards, including the John Jay Justice Award, Vital Voices’ Women of the Year Award and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called Dr Abdi “a perfect example of the kind of woman who inspires me”.

Chubb Fellowship Lecture and Events:

Dr. Abdi spoke to a large crowd at the Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Auditorium from 4:30 - 6:00pm on April 18, 2017.  She then attended a reception in her honor at the Timothy Dwight College House with Fellows of the College and other invited guests.  A dinner with TD and other Yale students followed in the TD Dining Hall.  She spoke briefly to the students attending the dinner about her life’s work.  Each attendee received a copy of Dr. Abdi’s memoir, Keeping Hope Alive, co-written with journalist Sarah J. Robbins.  Dr. Abdi, and her daughter, Deqo Mohamed, and her daughter’s husband, Mukhtar Abdi, remained on campus through May 5 staying in the Chubb suites.